A4K: Questions and Answers
1. Why is Ashwaubenon 4 Kids (A4K) best for children?
The Ashwaubenon School District believes that children’s early development and school readiness impact their later learning success. Research on child development strongly emphasizes the critical importance of early (birth to age five) learning and language experiences on brain development and future success in school and life.
The Ashwaubenon School District believes that all families should have equitable access to high quality early learning experiences for their four-year-old children outside of the home. Many excellent private and parochial preschool options currently exist within the district, but some families cannot access these programs due to financial constraints, transportation issues, or other factors. A voluntary four-year-old preschool program supported by available state funding widens accessibility to all families. The collaborative community-based model allows us to partner with the existing expertise, experience, and facilities of private providers to ensure a variety of choices for parents.
2. A4K supports the mission and vision of our district.
VISION OF THE ASHWAUBENON SCHOOL DISTRICT...
To achieve world class excellence in education so each child can reach his or her full potential.
MISSION OF THE ASHWAUBENON SCHOOL DISTRICT...
Partnering with our community, to develop students who are high achieving lifelong learners and
contributing world citizens.
MISSION OF CORMIER EARLY LEARNING CENTER, a premier education center…
We commit ourselves to the education of young children by offering a safe and inviting
environment that promotes joyful, lifelong learning with high expectations for each individual. We
also commit ourselves to a philosophy which fosters strong family, school, and community
3. What is the estimated number of four-year-olds in the district? How many will participate
in the program?
For the 2008-09 school year, we are estimating that there will be 100 resident four-year-olds in
Ashwaubenon. Other districts have reported that their 4K program enrollment is approximately
70% of their kindergarten enrollment for the first years of the program and gradually expands to be
very close to their 5K enrollment percent. For planning purposes we anticipate about 70 students
will enroll in A4K for the first year (2008-2009). Non-resident students are only eligible for A4K
through open enrollment if their resident district has a 4K program. As area districts implement 4K
programs open enrollment in A4K will become an option to non-residents.
4. Is “school” appropriate for four-year-olds?
We now know that the vast majority of brain development takes place in the earliest years of a
child’s life, and that the first five years lay the foundation for all future social, emotional, and
cognitive development. Research on early brain development indicates that from age three to five,
the part of the child’s brain responsible for planning and organizing, motor control, control of
emotions, and attention to tasks is growing rapidly. Preschool children who are read to frequently
and have a rich variety of opportunities to interact with others and their environment develop the
skills that will be needed at school age. The preschool child’s brain is not only ready, but “hardwired”
to learn at an amazing rate given appropriate, activity-based learning opportunities.
5. How does A4K benefit the community?
A collaborative community-based 4K model provides universal (all children are eligible)
accessibility for families plus additional financial supports for existing preschool programs. While
parents and families are the child’s first and foremost teacher, every family’s resources and
preparation for this important role are different.
The community shares a responsibility and a vested interest in ensuring all children’s well-being
and development. Long-term studies, including those by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota,
have demonstrated that investments in quality preschool programs have a public return on
investment as high as 12 percent. Children who participate in early childhood programs have lower
rates of teen pregnancy, decreased delinquency, and higher rates of employment. According to a
12/06/07 article in the Press Gazette, “Two-thirds of Wisconsin’s school districts offer 4-year-old
kindergarten, up about 10 percent from last year  and 70 percent in seven years... ” As
Ashwaubenon seeks to attract new young families, A4K offers positive early educational
opportunities. An investment in 4K is an investment in a community’s long term economic health.
FUNDING / BUDGET
6. Where will the funding come from?
Wisconsin’s school funding system provides funding for 4K programs based on the number of
students enrolled. Each student will generate a set amount of additional state aid for the district. It
is anticipated that by year three of operation, A4K will generate revenue limit room to fund the
program in its entirety, exceeding the expenditures.
7. What is the financial responsibility for parents?
There is no tuition for district-sponsored 4K programming regardless of where it is offered. While
their may be incidental costs for school supplies or field trips, the district will work with families who
cannot afford these expenses. No partner site can charge a fee for the 4K portion of their
program. Private sites will still charge parents for additional services such as extended childcare,
enrichment opportunities, or field trips (before and after the hours of the 4K program).
FACILITIES / TRANSPORTATION
8. How will the community sites be determined?
All Ashwaubenon childcare providers and preschools were invited to an informational meeting and
were given an application to become a partnering site. Applications were due January 4, 2008.
District administration will review the applications and make a recommendation to the Board.
Some of the criteria they will consider include:
· Meet applicable current state license requirements in State of Wisconsin Department of
Health and Family Services (DHFS) 45 or 46 Day Care Licensing Rules and have no
violations that required enforcement action within the last year.
· Meet Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) requirements for four-year-old
· Collaborate with the district to meet DPI teacher certification requirements. Copies of
teacher license(s) will be provided to the district.
· Collaborate with the district to provide opportunities for parent involvement. (DPI requires
outreach activities of a minimum of 87.5 hours with the primary caregivers of students.)
· Adopt and implement curriculum and assessment materials as determined by the school
· Conduct and document parent-teacher conferences and/or home visits.
· Actively participate in A4K meetings and professional development opportunities.
· Participate in site review as part of continuous improvement process.
· Provide adequate classroom space. The Wisconsin Department of Commerce specifies
35 square feet per occupant of open floor space assuming a self-contained classroom.
This number is specified for safety reasons only and does not indicate that this is the
optimal room size for educational purposes. Classrooms used for A4K need to be large
enough to allow for several play/activity areas, individual child work areas, and as an area
for large group activities.
9. Does a site have to meet ADA requirements?
Partner sites will comply with DHFS licensing regulations in regard to ADA requirements. The
school district will ensure that there are sites available in the district to meet the special needs of
all children including those with physical limitations. For example, while every site may not be
wheelchair accessible, an accessible A4K classroom will be available somewhere in the district.
10. What class size is being planned for?
There are no state regulations directing the teacher-child ratio for four-year-old kindergarten. DPI
encourages school districts to consider the 1:15 ratio recommended by the Student Achievement
Guarantee in Education (SAGE) class size reduction program and early childhood special
education inclusion models. Accordingly, if the school district is providing the teacher, plans are
for 12-15 students with one teacher and 16-22 students with a teacher and an assistant. At a
partner site with their own licensed teacher, the site will determine staffing levels in alignment with
their licensing requirements. Partner sites with childcare licenses will follow licensing guidelines
which require one licensed adult for every 13 students. In addition, if the partner site provides the
teacher, there may be some flexibility in minimum student numbers.
11. Are community sites still able to be used for other programs?
Yes, partner sites can continue their other programs, however, during the hours of their A4K
program, partner sites will comply with A4K guidelines.
12. Will the district provide transportation?
Every resident student will have the opportunity to be transported to one of the A4K sites. When
working with partner sites, transportation will be limited to just before and after A4K program
13. Where will the district sites be located?
Cormier School and Early Learning Center. Community sites are yet to be determined.
14. What does 4K mean? Is it the same as five-year-old kindergarten?
No, four-year-olds as a group are very different developmentally than five-year-olds and using
“watered down” five-year-old kindergarten program for four-year-olds is inappropriate and
ineffective. As an early learning program, instruction for four-year-olds will include early literacy
(reading and language) and number skills. Instruction will be provided in an activity-based manner
emphasizing discovery, exploring, and experimenting. Social and emotional skills physical skills,
health, science, art, and music will also be part of the curriculum. Each day will offer varied
opportunities for the child, including, but not limited to, large group circle time, story time, center
time, small and large motor play, art, music, recess, and field trips (DPI).
15. What are teacher qualifications for A4K?
Teachers in four-year-old kindergarten must hold a DPI kindergarten license (e.g., #090, PK-K;
#083,PK-3; #106, K-6, etc.), preferably the early childhood, pre-kindergarten-grade 3 (#083). With
the current emphasis on inclusion of children with disabilities in regular education programs, many
districts will be interested in teachers who hold dual certification in early childhood regular
education and early childhood special education (#808 or #809). Persons completing early
childhood level programs after 8/31/2004 will be issued a license as Early Childhood Level (birth
through age 8) teachers under new rules in Chapter PI 34.
16. What is the age cut off to participate in A4K? Is early entrance possible? Can a child
attend A4K twice?
Children must be four on or before September 1st to enroll. Early entrance will not be allowed in
A4K. A4K is not a two year program.
17. What curriculum will be used?
As an early education program, instruction in four-year-old kindergarten must address reading and
language arts first and foremost but also must include mathematics, social studies, science,
health, social skills, physical education, art and music. Obviously, the use of an integrated
curriculum, thematic approaches, and learning centers makes tremendous sense, because young
children learn by doing, exploring, and experimenting. The required areas (language, math,
music, etc.) should be built into the integrated approaches.
Curriculum and assessments are locally determined and should be based on best practice. Best
practice for children four and five years of age suggest curriculum be developmentally appropriate
with children actively engaged in a variety of learning approaches. Again, the required subjects do
not need to be taught as separate subjects using a teacher-driven curriculum. The general
breakdown of the day should include some direct instruction, a large number of experiential
“hands-on” activities, and an opportunity for child-initiated play (DPI).
Any curriculum and assessment that is developed will be aligned with the Wisconsin Model Early
Learning Standards (WMELS).
18. How will children with special needs be addressed?
A4K is open to all age-eligible children regardless of ability level. Special needs will be addressed
on an individual basis to determine the most appropriate placement for the child.
19. How will student progress be assessed?
A4K will identify student progress indicators based on WMELS. Assessment will be ongoing;
however, student growth will be monitored against benchmarks throughout the year. This will allow
for more effective differentiation, individualization, and parent support.
20. Can religious instruction take place at some sites?
According to DHFS, four-year-old partnerships can occur with religious-based schools and child
care centers with certain assurances. A district must ensure that no religious programming is
going on during the “4K” part of the day. If partner sites choose to offer religious instruction before
or after the hours of the 4K program, they may do so in a separate location from the 4K classroom.
Staff and parents must understand that this instruction is separate from and not affiliated in any
way with the 4K program.
21. How many days per week will the program be run? How much time per day?
A 4K program must have 437 instructional hours and 87.5 hours of parent involvement
opportunities per year to meet DPI requirements. The district is planning for a 5 day program that
would consist of 2 hours and 40 minutes a day. A morning session (8:00-10:40) would include
breakfast and an afternoon session (12:00-2:40) would include lunch. There will be no A4K on
district half-days or in the event we would schedule an early release.
22. How will program quality be defined and assessed?
A4K will be assessed annually with formal (Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale) and
informal (parent surveys) measurements.
FAMILY COMMUNITY SUPPORT AND COMMUNICATION
23. How and when will children be registered to participate in A4K?
The A4K committee will work with the community collaborating partners to establish a registration
process. It is anticipated that following a community meeting introducing the program to parents of
pre-schoolers, registration will take place in February.
24. How will this impact in-home providers and sites that do not choose to partner?
Non-partner sites, in-home providers, and parents who choose to keep their children at home will
be invited to participate in all A4K parent outreach activities. Parent resource centers will be open
to all parents. Parent resources and activity packets will be posted on the school district website so
that parents also can use the curriculum.
25. What are the opportunities for parent involvement?
A4K recognizes that parents are partners in the educational process and that parents have both
the right and the responsibility to share in decisions about their child’s education and
development.The A4K staff will plan numerous parent outreach activities. Outreach activities are
intended to support, nurture and instruct parents in their role as the primary educator of their
children. Some examples of outreach activities include: orientation activities the summer before
the 4K program begins; general communications (phone calls, newsletters, etc.); special
classroom events; evening family fun nights; pot luck dinners/meetings; parenting classes;
classroom involvement training; parent-governance activities; extended family and
intergenerational component; and transition to five-year-old kindergarten. Child care will be
provided when possible to make it easier for parents to be involved. In addition, each family will
be given multiple opportunities to volunteer in their child’s classroom. Each partner site may
identify other parent volunteer requirements at their individual site.
26. How much choice will parents have in what site their child goes to?
Site assignments will take into account established bus routes, class size, and a child’s daycare
placement. If parents prefer an alternate site and space is available, parents will be responsible
27. Can a child be removed from A4K because of behavior or special education needs?
Behavior and related policies are currently being developed by the Leadership sub-committee.